24 September 2015

The Making of Us.

Playing Uno when we popped to Belgium for lunch!

It started in France, when we were staying in a crummy hotel room, kept getting lost in the car and spent a few days just with each other and no-one else.

We started playing cards to while away the time spent after supper and before bed, just the kids and me.

Normally, they like to go to our students for their entertainment - a kick about in the garden, keeping up with the latest stuff on YouTube that wouldn't hit a radar of mine in a million years or playing Jenga while I cook / clean / do everything else in the whole wide world.

So it was strange to be just us, without distractions or chores to complete to keep the house ticking over and to have free time just to be.

We discovered we liked it, just being we three and playing games.

Our favourite by far was Uno, the card game of colours and numbers.  The little one regularly thrashed us.  He has the luck of Lucius, that one and made us laugh out loud with his lack of grace when winning.  He's a terrible loser as well and needed to learn about treating 'the imposters of triumph and disaster' just the same (Rudyard Kipling in his poem called 'If.').  That was fun.

They learned about 'the luck of the draw,' how it's not ok to cheat and how important it is to be seen to be not cheating.  That was a bit of a battle, but a laugh and we still can't turn our back on the youngest at all when he's dealing!

We've played Monopoly this summer, with the crap weather and having to stay at home more to help my head get better and that has been a joy.

They are terribly competitive, my two boys - not only with each other, but against me.  They like to gang up and make sure I lose to either of them.  I pretend to be awfully offended, but, secretly, am pleased they collude in this fashion.  I like to watch them growing closer as they get older.

It seems to have changed us.  Screens are banned during the week anyway (not in the six weeks off though, that would be crazy) and we seem to be calmer.  Life has found a different footing for us all and it suits us.

We're happy - past the chaos of two very young kids on my own and pre the dealing with two teenagers stage.  The lull before the storm, perhaps!

At present, the children are enjoying being children and I am enjoying them.  They use their imagination a lot and are now inventing games for us to play - ones only they can win, usually, obviously - changing the rules as they go along, quite convinced it's perfectly acceptable.  I humour them for a while, but try to teach them 'fair play' too, something we were all taught when we were growing up.

I don't want them to be sore losers.  I want them to want to win, but to realise that it's not the be all and end all and that, mostly, it's the taking part that matters, the give and take and the decorum with which we all have to play the hand we're dealt.

Just like life.

And it's been the making of us.

Here's the poem in case you dont' know it.  Which games would you recommend?
If you can keep your head when all about you   
 Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


  1. We are games family too. I recommend Backgammon, Rumikub, Mankala, Othello (Reverso), Yahtzee, and Boggle. And Taboo and Pictionary. When we were kids we used to have Kalooki marathons (up to 150 points and you can come in at the lowest score twice). I love games.

    1. Thank you Rachel. I don't know some of them so will investigate. We love Pictionary too. We need ones that the youngest can play as well and preferably fairly, so it can be a tricky balance. Have you tried Banangrams? x

    2. Yes, years before Bananagrams came out we played anagrams with the scrabble pieces - same rules. There are so many games on the market but only a few have lasting appeal. We also play Uno and Taki (same I think). Frustation is a hit with my 6yo too.

    3. You have inspired me to make us play more than we already do thank you! They love Frustration too but the 6yo gets the hump! xx

  2. Oh how lovely and what timing! I've just been on a major online company to order two skipping ropes for the girls to take to school, whilst there I've popped in my basket, Jacks - remember the silver things and a ball? Jack Straws and Pick up sticks plus a Cat's Cradle each for the girls too. All really low priced and games I loved as a child, I can't wait for them to arrive!

    1. I remember indeed Mari! What brilliant fun. Am going to get the same for the boys now I think. They'd love them. Such simple pleasures from simpler times. Thank you :) xxx

  3. We discovered UNO this summer and have been out in the garden and playing games more since the summer. I love it, and hope we can make it last, I like your no TV in the week rule. That poem used to really annoy me, I thought it was sexist, but now I have a son I see it in another light.

    1. So glad you're members of the Uno fan club - our kids can play next time! It's a very fair game that the LO have a chance of winning in, so it's popular here too. I have always thought that the poem applied to both sexes too xx

  4. Oh there must be something in the air as we are calmer too. A was naughty for 4 weeks in the Summer and it was so bad I got someone to say a prayer. It worked, he was like a different boy and now calm reigns supreme. We are having lots of similar quality time, but not with cards. Our game of choice, his favourite currently is Frustration. But it is so interesting to see the change in behaviour when the energy shifts. Love this post and our boys of course. Poem's great too xxxxxxxxxxx

    1. I think our children are growing up Liska! Perhaps nature gives us a bit of breathing space before the teens come - to make more babies perhaps ;) Might have to drag Frustration out again and see how if they cope a bit better with it! xxxx

    2. Yes I am glad he has turned sensible as it means I'll cope with a newborn come January :-) xx

    3. It seems that as soon as we get a handle on things, they change anyhow, so good luck with that ;) xx

  5. We used to play board games together but haven't done for quite a while now - the girls are too busy with boyfriends and so on. We still like a quiz game now and again though. It's a lovely way of spending time with children when they're younger though, I'm glad you've been enjoying it x

    1. Oh Jean, I am definitely going to make the most of it before they're into other things....! Thank you for the reminder xx

  6. Mine are loving card games too. Happy families, go fish and pontoon are all nice and easy x

    1. I love the way card games can include most ages. Will try go fish I think, thank you :) x

  7. What a lovely post, lovely! Little A loves games too, especially memory games, and she loves playing board games with Younger Dad - especially this kids version of monopoly we have. AND, like your youngest, she loves to WIN but hates LOSING, and game by game we are trying to teach her the graceful art of losing well! Hope you are all well! Big Love! XXX